The Legend of Wings Over: A Eulogy
Allow me to begin with just two words: Wings Over. That may not mean much to you as a phrase (except for those of you who live in Bristol, Hartford, Newington, Storrs, New Haven, Amherst, Brookline, Somerville, Springfield, Worcester, Framingham, Lowell, Boston, Westfield, East Lansing, Ann Arbor, Greenville, Carrboro, New Brunswick, Albany, Farmingdale, Ithaca, Saratoga Springs, Syracuse, Rochester, Columbus, Athens, Bowling Green, Happy Valley, Pittsburgh, Providence, Charlottesville, South Burlington, Madison, or Milwaukee). But to us, your grizzled and jaded elders, Wings Over is so much more than a phrase. Wings Over is a way of life. Wings Over is the banner we fly at our vanguard, the cause to which the most loyal among us dedicate our hearts and wallets.
Or, rather, it was. Because that beloved banner no longer flies over our campus. Not since the Reckoning.
You see, young ones, Wings Over was our great leader in troubled times. When we were awake past midnight working on essays, when we were held in the steel grip of a Netflix binge, when we gathered with people we barely knew but who lived on our floors so our RA figured we should get to know them better, Wings Over was there for us. Through rain and sleet and snow and hail, Wings Over always came, like a silent guardian, like a black-plastic-bag-wrapped dark knight.
And the wings themselves--oh, God, the wings. Just thinking about them brings a sorry tear to these war-weary eyes. Tender as a babe, every one of ‘em, and smothered in enough sauce to drown an entire platoon. They were too good for this world, those wings. Too good for the destruction they witnessed.
I still dream about those wings. Sometimes the dreams are peaceful. Most times they’re nightmares. I wake up with the taste of Cajun Teriyaki still in my mouth. There’s no going back to sleep after something like that.
It was a golden age, back then. But, like all things, that age ended.
We had withdrawn for the summer; that was our mistake. We were too careless. Too many of us deserted our posts for the allure of internships and family vacations to Acapulco. We let the glory that was Wings Over slip through our fingers.
We had withdrawn, and so the forces amassed against us made their move. We know them by their most vile name: Pizza Hut. In the heat of last July, when the midnight orders were at their lowest, when the armies of Wings Over were at their weakest, Pizza Hut struck.
The blow was too much; our great leader was crippled, its legs swept from underneath. It fell, fell, and when dawn rose the next morning, we saw the dust rising also. We covered our eyes, we turned away. I and my brothers- and sisters-in-arms, we wept. We saw the empty husk of Wings Over, and we wept as the terms of surrender were given, as the buyout was finalized, as Pizza Hut made their victory complete.
When Wings Over went, so did we. The armies disbanded; my fellow soldiers defected to BK, to Subway, to Fran’s and the C-stores. And we few, we precious few who remain, we mourn for Wings Over. We mourn it in the late hours when we half-assedly rush through problem sets. We mourn it in our hearts and in our minds. But most of all, we mourn it by our hatred for the Great Usurper, Pizza Hut.
But as much as we hate the Usurper, we cannot fight it. For we are broken, my fellow soldiers and I. We are but a shadow of the once-great force we used to be. When they took Wings Over, they took our spirit with it. Now, we exist without purpose. We wander this city, lost, aching for a leader who will never be returned to us.
Our glory. Our honor. Gone in a moment of weakness.
That is why I tell you this, freshmen. That is why I stand here before you. I come to warn you: Never forget who the true enemy is. Never forget who came into your land and took the greatest from among you. Never forget Wings Over.
And never forgive Pizza Hut.